Ladyboys of Bangkok to quit Edinburgh Fringe

The Ladyboys of Bangkok have been a Fringe fixture for 16 years. Picture: Lesley Martin
The Ladyboys of Bangkok have been a Fringe fixture for 16 years. Picture: Lesley Martin
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ONE of the festival’s biggest annual attractions is preparing to quit the Capital after a host of rival acts made bids to take over its prime location.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok have been a Fringe fixture for 16 years, but higher rents being charged for their Meadows spot could price them out.

Council officials believe the site could raise three times as much as demanded at the moment and a bidding war has already kicked off.

While details of the bids are secret, the Evening News understands there has been a lot of interest.

Promoters behind the hugely popular show now fear they will have no choice but to seek a new home – most likely away from Edinburgh.

In August, Ladyboys of Bangkok founder and circus impresario Phillip Gandey warned that he would shift the act to Glasgow if soaring rents made staging it unaffordable.

And while the show has bid to retain the Meadows site, producers admit its lengthy stint in the city is “at risk”.

Peter Massera, a spokesman for events firm Gandey World Class productions, said his company was bound by the rules of the tendering process not to comment on its bid.

But he told the Evening News: “It’s always been our intention to keep the show in Edinburgh. It’s where we began with our first Fringe appearance 16 years ago. Of course this puts the show at risk. We will just have to wait to hear the outcome of the ­tendering process.”

At a recent council meeting, acting head of environment Jim Hunter said: “It’s anticipated that the income received [for the Meadows] could be as much as three times what was asked for previously.”

As well as rent, the council will pocket a percentage of any ticket sales over £250,000. The successful bidder is expected to be revealed within two weeks.

The tendering process was introduced following calls for events held on the parkland to contribute more to repairing the surface, after complaints a large swathe of grass was mud for several months of the year.

Friends of the Meadows convener Heather Goodare welcomed increased rental income.

She said: “I hope they make a bit more money because the fees the Ladyboys were paying last year were derisory.

“They were £450 a night, and they wouldn’t have been able to accommodate their residential caravans for that price out at Mortonhall, never mind the marquees. They were getting a very low price.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The assessment of ­tender submissions is under way – this process seeks to strike a balance between the city’s events programme and the use of the Meadows for recreational users.”